In post-WWII San Francisco, four Chinese women became friends, and decided to meet once a week to play mahjong. They dubbed themselves the Joy Luck Club. It was a time to speak in their native tongue, share their memories of life in the old country, and talk about what was happening in the present. Each woman – Suyuan, An-mei, Lindo, and Ying-ying – had unique experiences growing up, marrying, and having children. And each one of them had a daughter that they loved and worried over.
This novel is told from eight different points of view – from each of the women in the Joy Luck Club, and also the daughters of the women. Most of the book focuses on the relationships of the mothers and daughters, and the importance of family honor in their culture. The reader gets to look into the private life of each woman, and marvel at the way they are all brought together by their common heritage.
I was raised the Chinese way: I was taught to desire nothing, to swallow other people’s misery, to eat my own bitterness.
And even though I taught my daughter the opposite, still she came out the same way! Maybe it is because she was born to me and she was born a girl. And I was born to my mother and I was born a girl. All of us are like stairs, one step after another, going up and down, but all going the same way.
I know how it is to be quiet, to listen and watch, as if your life were a dream. You can close your eyes when you no longer want to watch. But when you no longer want to listen, what can you do? I can still hear what happened more than sixty years ago.